Essential Franchise Development Ad Strategies That Work in 2023

Essential Franchise Development Ad Strategies That Work in 2023

As the franchising industry continues to grow, many franchisors are finding it increasingly difficult to identify qualified franchisees using digital ads in 2023. With the right data and franchise development ad strategies, a successful digital ad campaign can draw in potential franchisees and help ensure a profitable long-term franchise development program. However, creating an effective digital ads campaign requires a deep understanding of how different objectives require varied approaches to reach different audiences.

For instance, campaigns aimed at creating brand awareness may use different tactics than those focused on lead generation or driving conversions. Finding the balance between these objectives is essential for maximizing ROI and achieving desired results from digital ad campaigns for franchisors.

At Solucru, we’ve found several different campaigns types are needed to ensure we are able to reach the best franchise candidates for our clients. Consumers have never had more research capabilities available like we see now, and this means we have to meet them where they are in their research process with the type of content and information they need.

Read on to see the must-have franchise development ad campaigns we use for our clients’ campaigns.

Intent-focused campaigns

In 2023, search ads focused on user intent will be key for franchises seeking to attract qualified franchisees. By leveraging users’ interests and desires, these ads can be tailored to drive desired outcomes such as lead generation, brand loyalty, or decreased cost per new franchise agreement signed. With more people utilizing search engines or social media platforms as their primary source of research and recommendations, placing the proper focus on different steps of a potential franchisee’s research funnel can garner significantly more exposure and interest in your brand’s franchise opportunity.

We use different campaigns focused on various types of intent commonly shown by franchise prospects. Presenting our clients’ franchise opportunities in a relevant way while a prospect is looking for specific characteristics around franchising is, many times, most effective at capturing prospects who are further down the research funnel. Here are 3 key Intent-based franchise development ad campaign types.

1. Franchise Model Intent

Prospects searching Franchise Model Intent keywords are ideal candidates that are most likely towards the latter phases of their research cycle. They are searching for specific types of franchise opportunities or industry specific franchise search phrases. Logically, this means they are further down the process of identifying a franchise model that is right for their needs.

When designing franchise development ad campaigns for our clients, we make sure to put a priority on these searchers and most of the ad budget goes to getting ads in front of people searching these phrases. Searchers showing this level of intent are generally trying to find out a few types of information based on the logic that the type of franchise they have in mind could be their next move:

  1. What are the top brands in this space offering a franchise opportunity?
  2. What are the pricing dynamics around a franchise in this space – cost, profitability, etc?
  3. I’ve been looking at a franchise in this space but wanted to see if there are any other options I’m not aware of.
  4. I know what industry I want to be in, but what are the specific business models I can work within?

As you can image, people in this mindset are exactly the ones you want to be speaking with every day! Below, you’ll find a brief graphic covering some of the top keyword groups we use to get in front of people searching with franchise model intent.

Franchise Development Ad Example Franchise Model Intent Keywords used for franchise lead generation
Example Franchise Model Intent Keywords

2. Budget Intent

Once you’ve implemented a comprehensive keyword and ad strategy to place your brand in front of people who already have an idea of the type of franchise they are interested in purchasing, you should take a step back and consider how your brand competes within your given investment range. In reality, before someone hones in on a given franchise model or industry, your brand is effectively competing with every other brand that fits within their budget. How do you stack up to this competition?

Common searches from prospects in this phase of their research cycle would include searches such as “top franchises for $XXX” or “best franchises under $XXX”. In addition, people may search for other budget related items such as options around financing available for franchises. In this case, you want to be sure that the keywords you are targeting are specific to franchises offering financing vs broadly targeting franchise financing sources as you will end up competing with banks and lenders which can get very expensive.

In the following graphic we’ve highlighted a few of the types of budget intent keywords we regularly include in our client franchise development ad campaigns.

Franchise Development Ad Example Budget Intent Keywords used for franchise lead generation
Example Budget Intent Keywords

3. Investment Motivation Intent

Outside of budget, when a prospect is searching for potential franchise opportunities that could fit their goals, many times they base their searches around certain types of motivating factors that fit into their life plan or bigger goals. These can involve how active they want to be in their next business venture or finding an opportunity that lets them utilize their background to the fullest potential. It’s important to strategically identify these elements in your ideal franchisee profile to reverse engineer the searches your ideal prospects may make to find your opportunity.

In this category, the key for success is wholly your ability to identify what makes your business unique in these areas(or at least competitive) and then specifically drive the prospects to content designed to address these motivating factors. This strategy works great for brands that have a very specific IFP that may not be inherently obvious based on your core business model. I.e. You provide a business service that involves manual labor but only look for franchisees with sales skills.

The following graphic shows a few types of investment motivation intent keyword groups that we may used based on a brand’s goals.

Franchise Development Ads Example Investment Motivation Intent Keywords used for franchise lead generation
Example Investment Motivation Intent Keywords

4. Competition and Brand Intent

When thinking of other buckets of search intent where you want to see your brand featured, searches for your top competitors franchise opportunities or your own brand name commonly come to mind. We would agree these are great ways to get more exposure to prospects, and we regularly include some variation of these two campaigns for our clients. These campaigns, as simple as they may seem, require a bit of strategic thought to make sure you aren’t wasting your budget.

For competitor campaigns, we are regularly approached with questions about targeting the largest competitors in a given brand’s industry. While this may be logical and will produce solid results in some cases, industries with VERY large competitors that have exponentially more brand awareness can leave brands with lots of money spent and little to no results to show. This happens because the competitor has massive search volume and the search engines are trying to serve your ads as much as possible within this space. Typically this leads to a lot of impressions on people who aren’t actually looking to buy a franchise but searched something “close enough” so your ad was served. It’s likely better to start targeting competitors that are more closely matched to your brand’s existing status.

As for brand focused searches, if your keywords are too broad, your franchise development budget could end up competing with your local marketing budget drawing the ire of your existing franchisees and making both budgets less effective. In general, your franchise development brand intent budget should be view as “protection” for your brand’s franchise opportunity. You need to protect yourself competitors trying to steal your prospects as well as portal sites who want to take a nice commission for referring people who were already interested in your opportunity to you.

More importantly, you should understand why brand intent searches happen in the first place – because someone found your brand somewhere else! This could be from one of the search campaigns we discussed already, they’ve interacted with your brand in the real world, a franchising event, or Awareness-focused digital ads campaigns. Let’s talk about those next!

Awareness-focused campaigns

Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tik Tok, and so on have given advertisers options to reach their users with various types of advertisements for many years now. There is quite a bit of debate on the effectiveness of these channels as various industries see significantly different results and constant changes to laws, rules, and functionality make things a never ending challenge for all advertisers.

However, franchisors should absolutely be using these platforms to reach targets prospects with information on their franchise opportunity. Utilizing various franchise development ad targeting strategies available can give you the ability to significantly increase awareness and influence over people that just might become your next great franchise partner.

1. Interest based awareness

The most basic and traditional way to get started with and awareness campaign is to use the interests and behaviors of the platforms users to build an audience that likely includes your prospects. In concept, the ad platforms’ native targeting in social networks like Facebook and Instagram(Meta) and Tik Tok or Snap give you the ability to place your brand in front of people in amazing ways.

In reality, while it does work this way to an extent, you are also fully at mercy to these networks profit goals and algorithmic priorities. This means, your ads will likely be presented to a significant number of people who are more likely to make an action vs. more likely to be your ideal prospect. With the law of large numbers, however, you can definitely generate some amazing leads. You just have to understand the purpose and expectations around these campaigns and be patient.

We would argue it’s better to take advantage of the low cost of these campaigns to build a nurturing, content-based campaign designed to catch your ideal prospects attention and intentionally weed out those who are unqualified. That is, unless you just want large numbers of leads as your priority.

There are so many ways to build interest and/or behavior based audiences on social ad platforms, but we always start with the basics of people who have shown interest in entrepreneurialism, franchising, business ownership. From there, there are a million ways to customize an audience for a specific objective. The screenshot below shows an insight into to the types of Interest categories available on Meta’s ad platform(Facebook and Instagram).

Screenshot of Meta Ads targeting options for interest based awareness campaigns designed to generate franchise leads

2. Demographic based awareness

Franchisors are usually looking for a franchisee with some level of business acumen and leadership skills. With this in mind, there is one source(in most of the world) that stands above all others in it’s ability to give your brand awareness to a specific set of individuals based on their professional background – LinkedIn.

Using LinkedIn’s audience targeting goes a significant step further than the other social networks because the primary targeting metrics are based on the professional characteristics one lists in their LinkedIn profile. This theoretically allows you to place your brand exclusively in front of the types of people that make great franchisees for your brand. The downside here is that this access typically comes at a higher cost as compared to the other social networks. However, if you can create great content and strategically deliver that content to your audience over time, you can get amazing results.

Targeting varies significantly based on your ideal franchisee profile, so we are including a screengrab that shows you the starting point provided by LinkedIn when building your demographic based awareness campaign audience.

Screenshot of LinkedIn Ads targeting options for demographic based awareness campaigns designed to generate franchise leads

3. Audience based awareness

To take the concept of targeting your ideal franchisee profile a step further, you can use custom audiences to target the exact list of individuals you would like to have as your next franchisees. If you are attending trade shows and collecting large numbers of leads or any other method of lead generation, including digital ads, you can take those lead lists and upload them into many of the most common ad platforms to dictate that you ONLY want ads served to these individuals. Alternatively, you can acquire contact data through various methods to build larger lists of your ideal prospects and grow your reach further while taking the control away from the ad platform’s algorithms.

While this method of targeting can be insanely effective, there are a few key considerations:

  1. Although you have a list of individuals that you are dictating to the platform, it does not guarantee that those individuals regularly use the platforms you are advertising on.
  2. The data points you have in your list may not match up with the data points known by the ad platform so therefore, you may have a low match rate. This means although you have 5000 individuals in your list, the ad platform may only be able to match your list to 1000 people on their network.

If option 2 is your situation, there are data partners who can help you enhance your data to match a higher percentage of contacts to the social networks ad platform. Our favorite platforms for this type of campaigns are Google/Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Tik Tok is possibly becoming another great option, but note they require you to have contact device ID’s to create a custom audience on their network.


In 2023, leveraging all the different types of franchise development ad campaigns available in franchise marketing campaigns is key to achieving success. Model Intent ads focus on building an emotional connection with potential customers, Budget Intents ads help your brand stand our with prospects who can afford your opportunity, Motivation Intent ads capture the attention of prospects that want the lifestyle you are offering.

While awareness focused campaigns might have been deprioritized in the past, it’s never been more important to strategically incorporate these into your advertising mix to tell your brand story and reach those ideal prospects that didn’t know you were their next move yet. Whichever awareness focused targeting strategy you use, make sure you keep your priorities on capturing attention and influencing prospects over time vs. only judging campaigns on immediate lead flow. A huge indicator of overall awareness campaign success is an increase in brand searches!

By combining all these approaches into a comprehensive campaign strategy, franchisors can gain maximum value from their digital ad spend and build a predictable franchise lead generation systems which gives them more control in their growth.

Got questions about how Solucru can help you develop an ideal franchise lead generation system? Get in touch!